Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said on Tuesday that election officials in Pennsylvania should follow existing state laws governing undated ballots and other irregularities. Her comments followed the filing of a lawsuit by David McCormick, who is running in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in the state against Trump-endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz.
McDaniel told Fox News that it is not a sign the RNC favors Oz over McCormick because it is siding with him regarding the lawsuit. McCormick’s lawsuit cites a recent judicial ruling as support for its argument that mail-in ballots should not be automatically disqualified if they lack a date on the outside of the ballot.
The RNC disagrees with McCormick’s position. McDaniel said that the country saw “many state laws abandoned in 2020.” She said the party is asking Pennsylvania and other states to simply “uphold the laws you have on the books.”
The previous ruling referenced by McCormick comes from an election last year in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where two candidates have battled for months over disputed ballots.
A panel of judges from a state appeals court said that the policy disallowing undated ballots is “immaterial” to a ruling under federal voting rights laws. It said there is “no basis” under the law to refuse to count such ballots.
McDaniel disagreed with that ruling, saying that the RNC doesn’t agree with “changing the rules after the game has been played.” She said that if courts start “cherry-picking” which parts of the law should be enforced, uncertainty will plague the November general elections.
She also said that anyone considering McCormick’s lawsuit should be suspicious that former Clinton campaign and DNC lawyer Marc Elias is praising the argument made in the case.
The McCormick campaign said that the lawsuit seeks an order compelling counties to follow last year’s appeals court ruling. Attorney Chuck Cooper represents the campaign and said that courts have ruled that mail-in ballots should not be disregarded just because a voter failed to write in the date it was sent on the outside of the ballot.
Cooper claims that because county elections boards time-stamp ballots when they are received, handwritten dates are “meaningless.” He insists that all timely ballots submitted by “qualified Republican voters” must be counted.
By Wednesday afternoon, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State had declared that a mandatory recount is required in the contest, as the difference in percentage of votes received by Oz and McCormick will be lower than 0.5%. The recount means that a winner will not be determined before next month at the earliest.